Update: Thanks to @HistoryofHyrule, we now have a much clearer look at the mysterious female Link spotted in the 1986 issue of Shonen Captain. Further details on the image's origins can be found in our original article below.
Original Article (Tue 2nd Apr, 2019 04:30 BST): Back in 2015, The Legend of Zelda fanbase went wild when Koei Tecmo confirmed a female version of Link would be added to Hyrule Warriors Legends. As official as 'Linkle' was, she might not have necessarily been the first female version of the iconic character.
Twitter account Kazzykazycom recently highlighted an incredibly old issue of the Japanese magazine Shonen Captain, dating back to 1986 – the same year as the release of the original Legend of Zelda game on the Famicom. As you can see above and below, the artwork in it depicts Link as a female with red hair. This is believed to be a mistake on the magazine's behalf.
Even if it isn't faithful to the source material, we have to admit, it's rather lovely artwork.
Would you like to see Linkle return to a Zelda game in the future? Tell us down below.
INCOMING FANART AND PERVY COMMENTS
Removed - inappropriate
There are mountains of gender-bent Link fan arts around, much of it rather good. A lot of people thought Link was a girl, and a lot of people like to draw that. Makes no surprise the same sort of thing could happen back in the day. Especially if the artist in question was perhaps unfamiliar with the game.
Personally I rather enjoy gender-bent characters. I'm sure you'd never have guessed that given my profile picture. lol
hello, Nintendo Life comment section!
how are you?
Female Link for Smash confirmed!
Link says trans rights
Also seemingly not wearing pants
For the love of god put some pants on
Zelda is a boy and you play as him
Well it's called Legend of Zelda, so the first time most people ever hear of it they assume the main character is Zelda - ie. a girl, (just like some people thought Samus' name was Metroid!)
Huh, people are worried about a lot of lewd comments but there aren't any so far...does that mean I need to say one to not make liars?....hmmm...dat third picture? How was that?
You know, I never really noticed how short Link's tunic is.
As usual girls have to be objectified in the game world...
This must be the gender swapped version of the Link from Zelda 2 otherwise this Link is one highly developed 12 year old!
@Galarian_Lassie They got the gender wrong, no reason to assume they'd get the age right. lol
Animation from that era is neat.
Seems like they thought Link was Zelda too.
don't get to excited over this.
p.s i also see a booty there
Very cute design.
So as a female she didn't have any trousers. How nice of them... Irony mode off.
Beautiful! Looks way better than Linkle too
16x16 pixels heroes ?
Let’s make her unforgetable.
-some 1986 hentai artist
She must be called Linkerie..
I've read that the original intent with the character design was to make Link's gender ambiguous, so the player could imagine them as male or female accordingly.
Link looks hot, great job as always Japan!
Of course there's an upskirt shot, sigh.
Maybe it would be good if you could play as a female Link, female Mario, and male Samus... Maybe.
@HarryHyruleHero While I don't think it'd be "good" per se since it'd mess with the franchises and the lore (at least in Mario/Link's cases, since they're so very clearly meant to be male- despite me wanting to play as Linkle extremely badly in BotW coz saving Zelda ain't ma priority), I'd actually love to see the official artists of Nintendo (aka several) come up with their own designs of a male Samus and female Mario.
For fun, of course.
I regard Linkle as female Link, because she might as well be. Not according to lore, but eh. She's as close as we'll get I guess.
Linkle is one of the dumbest names in gaming... someone dropped the ball there.
Still, this older female Link, I dig it, because long flowing hair and a super short skirt is what you want on a practical level when you're slaying demons
Yeah, fair enough.
The whole reason the character is called Link, is because they are the link between the game and the player, therefore no reason that it could be female
@NintoRich is more like most people think they are playing as a dude called Zelda lol
Whether in 1987 or 2017 Link makes a cute girl.
Nice buttocks Link, haha.
Well someone screwed that’s up.
@Bunkerneath @Branovices. Yes link was originally intended to represent the player however over time he became his own character. Not everyone is a blonde haired blue eyed male with fair/tanned skin and elvish ears for link to represent them. Link is male.. Thats his character id love a female option but changing it just because and not making a spinoff of a actual female say zelda herself is dumb....
Also love how its from the time where female counterparts where always for some reason more sexualized then the dudes... I wanna see some link side cheek and upskirt nintendo
If you're just given the little pixel art in screenshots, and the name "Zelda", I'd forgive you as an artist for something like this. Particularly when your drawings are this lovely.
Even if they knew his actual name, リンク / RINKU isn't a Japanese name, and both pronunciation and structure lean towards female.
I wish she'd blow my flute.
About the pants stuff, N64-era Link never wore any either
It feels unnecessarily sexy, but otherwise great artwork
This makes me uncomfortable in multiple ways.
@Charlie_Girl It makes me incredibly sad that all you do is show up to have a conversation, and people just downvote you out of spite. It makes me incredibly happy, though, that you keep showing up regardless of what response you get.
FINALLY WE KNOW WHERE THE PINK HAIR COMES FROM
Those are actually quite nice.
Better than Linkle tbh.
I always thought the smash bros games lost out on having a pink haired link costume, maybe toon link fits the best.
Why are there 4 different designs for supposedly the same Link?
Well, I like it. Wouldn’t be surprised if people started cosplaying as this depiction of Link.
@JR150 - Bruh did you just discover the internet?
Femlink has been a thing for at least a decade, if not more.
My brother still thinks Samus is called Metroid 😂
I bet you feel stupid now huh?
On an unrelated note I'm surprised this comment section hasn't plunged into chaos right about now.
@Luigi_Mario With a name like ”Shounen Captain" it's no wonder the artwork features scantily clad pre-Linkle...
@Yorumi I think a lot of it is probably Miyamoto vs. Aonuma at the helm. Miyamoto designed Link as an avatar, and that's fairly consistent through his games, except for Zelda II where it was a legit Sleeping Beauty "boy saves princess" affair...but he kind of ignores Zelda II. It wasn't until Ocarina he turned the reins over to Aonuma and stepped back from direct Zelda production mostly, which is when Link suddenly became a character, which makes sense with Aonuma's heavy story/anime focus on things, even trying to retcon lore from Miyamoto's lore-less isolated tales. In interviews Miyamoto always expresses interest in female link (or Zelda as a protagonist), and cited that his daughter once asked why she couldn't play as Zelda. So I think this one is Aonuma has a very different idea of what the world should be than Miyamoto, and while Miyamoto always outranks him, he's leaving creative discretion to his producer/director.
Some of the posing choices are...interesting. Pretty typical though. I do really like the art style of the time and the drawings are quite good. Looks like there's one more image not provided here, one with a sword and shield. It's a cool find. I'm glad I got to see this.
Love the art style really so beautiful. This is my kinda Link really enjoying the old style. Still would love to see a female Link either a BFF to Zelda or a solider training under Impa. Would be nice to actually see some romance between Zelda and a male or female Link in the games' stories.
Removed - foreign languages
@Moroboshi876 Link didn't wear trousers until he became an adult in OoT. And even then, he's wearing hose instead of trousers.
Twilight Princess is the first game where he actually wears real pants!
@Plainclothes_Man Well, you know what I meant. They had to show underwear because it's a female. That's sexism.
While I wouldn't want to defend it , it is a Japanese Shounen magazine from 1986.
Is it sexism? Well, no. The better word would be sexualization.
In that case, then yes she's sexualized. (Or maybe fanservice would be the better word, idk tbh.)
@Chimaj Oh come on, it is just a video game, move along. Plus outfits like that in a fantasy setting is 100% Alright!
Whatsup with Japanese folk and sexy anime stuff? I like my games and sex separate..mixin'em is hella wierd lol. .and how can a hero right evil with such a tiny skirt?might as well not even have a skirt!lol.
@IceEarthGuard It's not just a video game, it's a platform for telling a story and influence people. When girls constantly are being objectified in games it's hard to "move along" when you're gaming several hours per day. For whom is it 100% alright? And really, it's not only about the outfit, it's also the body language and camera angle.
I was wracking my brain to figure out which manga/anime this reminded me of, and now I just remembered: Ranma 1/2.
If you ask me, Link in these photos looks a lot like female Ranma.
@Chimaj Well not all video games tell a story. For the 100% thing I said is that you should expect clothing that is not normal to you in the fantasy setting to begin with tbh. And really it isn't a problem to me because I know what is real and not real, so people making questionable art with characters really should not offend people or think they are "objectifying" girls. I rather worry about real life people than characters that are not even real.
That's pretty cool retro artwork. It makes me think of Deedlit from Record of Lodoss War, among others.
@astrofan1993 I got that Rumiko Takahashi vibe from it too, Lum came to mind when I saw it first.
If Zelda can dress as a guy, why can't Link dress like a girl?
@redael You know what? I can also see Lum Invader in it, too.
@Clamango haha how did this get three thumbs down. Funny as always.
Greetings to those who will inevitably be led to this page from those random Taboola ads at the end of every article.
Those legs, fantastic!
Link should always remain Male. 🤗
Ranma 1/2 vibes.
This is the real Link. The actual Link.
did you just assume his/her/xyr gender?
This Link deserves to be canonized in the main series.
And my new headcanon is LttP Link (pink haired Link) is a woman. Thank you!
Does anyone else think she looks like Ranma?
Well, he finally embraced all of those years being called Zelda 😂
@Chimaj while the kneeling bow pose is crap and it’s dumb that her legs are exposed (dumb when Link’s are too. I was so glad when Nintendo embraced chainmail/pants/leggings. ) the one kneeling with the sword (the short tunic sours it a bit) and when she is looking up with the bow look like action shots. I would have found them to be heroic poses as a child.
So Linkle lied about her age.
@Roam85 I follow Chris Rock's advice... if she tells you she's 20, and looks 18, she's 12. If she tells you she's 26, and looks 26, she's damn near 40.
The magazine made a "mistake" but they got Link's left-handedness right?
lmao at the two first comments on this thread - INCOMING PERVY COMMENTS and Removed - inappropriate
@Bret Right? Gave me a good laugh too! I'd like to imagine it was planned.
This is obviously satire
Aw, she's so precious, no one hurt woman in green! ):
What the heck? ...will she appear in a game because I agree. That is lovely artwork.😳
Poor girl must hate the Ice Palace, dressed like that!
This artwork gives me....feelings. 🥵
I wonder if there was no official artwork of Link at that point? This is what's so great about old gaming magazines!
Ahhhh, That's cute.
I missed reading this article back in 2019. Gender-swapped Link images and dialogue is kawaii and all (and probably sold them a few more magazines at the time), but my main takeaway from the article is... 1986 is incredibly old?
This makes me feel positively ancient. (^_^);;;
Would have been an even bigger fan of the Zelda series if this were canon.
I always thought Link looked a bit feminine in early illustrations, especially when depicted in Zelda II and LttP's artwork. As if female was the original intent.
Hmm, lovely, lovely legs!!
I have absolutely no problem with this depiction of Link.
Gender-bent Link?! THE HORROR!! (Looks at avatar) Okay, never mind...
This is hilarious.
@Gwynbleidd Shh, we must Give them time (:
oh no the naysayers decree that fantasy has to have more rules than reality
For a moment, before I saw that this was updated, I thought someone at Nintendolife forgot that this had been covered already. Nice to see a new scan. I said earlier that I like the character design and the general art style of the time. As the anime comparisons go, this design made me think of A-ko, but then I just watched a couple of those recently so it's fresh in my mind.
I can see the rule 34 overlords already in action
Now we need a male Samus. Because gender-swaps are always awesome and make fans "go wild" as this article says! I think he could be called, and bear with me.... "Sam."
Linky looking hot
@Gwynbleidd NGL, I'm surprised as well LOL.
If all the artist had to go on was a screenshot and the name Legend of Zelda (a female name), you can understand why they thought the character was female. Its just like people thinking Samus's name was Metroid.
Hello, I've recieved some comments on what I wrote 3 years ago and wanted to respond and try to clarify.
My point is that in some cases it's as if portraying a woman can only be done by, or is only interesting if showing the body in a sexual way - ass, legs, boobs, in tiny clothing, showing underwear - and sometimes with a perplexed expression in her face. This is objectifying.
As the article says, the magazine made a mistake to portray Link as a woman instead, but why make these exposed images of a female version of Link in this type of magazine (which I assume is just a regular magazine)? Would they have portrayed Link as a male in the same way? How would you react to that? Would it seem appropriate here?
Sure, this magazine is old and we've come a long way since, but I still see women portrayed like this in unnecessary contexts. I understand that in a fantasy world you want to fantasize, but in this particular case the idea was not to sexualize Link, right? It was just to make him as female. Is this what it means to be a woman? Role models are important, it doesn't matter if they're "real" or not.
Oh my god it's Zelda
@Chimaj You seem super fun. Really glad the world is so full of people like you these days.
To prove the short-sightedness of your hot take, look no further than the Legend of Zelda cartoon from the 80's, which portrays the direct inverse of this supposedly sexualized female Link: a stereotypical dim-witted male chauvinist who cares only about eating meat, seeking violent encounters, and sexually pursuing Zelda. So yeah, it exists. But it's best to just lighten up and stop looking for hills to die on over cartoon depictions of video game characters. Life is too short to deprive yourself and everyone around you of the ability to enjoy light-hearted things that infract upon your personal sense of justice.
@JasmineDragon This isn't gender bending, it's just a gender swap. Or more accurately, it's Link mistakenly portrayed as a female. It's not like a trans or drag queen Link or something.
Why are we assuming she's pant-less and not just wearing leggings? She could just as easily be wearing white leggings as nothing at all, which frankly would make more sense.
@BAN It wasn't meant to be serious.
I thought Miyamoto specifically said Link was meant to be neutral in gender, so that the player can decide for themselves and more easily relate... and they are called "Link" because they act as the link between the player and the game world. Its only in recent games were they seem to push Link as being male in certain ways, like voice acting... they still look pretty ambiguous to me in the recent games, especially the Skyward Sword remake.
@JasmineDragon Well you're not the only one saying that, so surely some people mean it.
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